USCL Week 3: Dallas Destiny vs. Queens Pioneers

It's hard to describe our victory last Wednesday as anything but an old-fashioned swindle. In all but one game (Stripunsky - Boskovic), we were clearly lost. Escaping with a 3-1 victory and moving to first place in the West was a welcome gift.

Here is a rundown of the games:

Board 1: GM Alexander Stripunsky (2626) vs. IM Drasko Boskovic (2532) 0-1

A great game by Drasko that was given hardly any credit by the Game of the Week judges. How could this have been ranked only the 6th best game of week 3?! I understand that Bhat - Nakamura from Monday night was an exciting game, but it was also riddled with errors from both sides. Boskovic defeated his extremely strong GM opponent (FIDE 2589) with black in a virtually flawless performance featuring an elegant concluding combination. The incredible 38...Rh1!! (the banal 38...Qxe4+ actually forces mate faster) is an extremely strong move, after which White will be mated. Leaving the queen en prise in such fashion is quite pleasing to the eye.

I think it is a real shame that the Game of the Week judges seem to favor a game's "hype" over its objective quality.

Board 2: IM Davorin Kuljasevic (2489) vs. IM Eli Vovsha (2501) 1/2-1/2

This is one of those games that is difficult for both sides to play. The tension in the center and on the kingside was building for quite some time, and eventually it liquidated in Vovsha's favor. A position of material equality was reached, though Davorin's numerous pawn weaknessess and Vovsha's active pieces seemed to spell disaster for Dallas. Props to Kul J for some dogged defense that allowed him to eventually reach a drawn Q vs. Q+B ending.

Board 3: NM Parker Zhao (2196) vs. IM Jacek Stopa (2414) 1/2-1/2

Given the rating disparity, this was obviously a game we were hoping to get a full point out of. Unfortunately, Jacek played a poor opening and was forced to part with a pawn early on. Zhao's position was getting better and better until he faltered with 37.Rg6?, conceding a draw by repetition. A narrow escape!

Board 4: WFM Bayaraa Zorigt (2196) vs. Michael Thaler (2058) 1-0

Unbelievable. That is the only word that comes to mind when you play through this one. Cliff notes: the game went from clearly better for Bayaraa, to equal, to lost, to drawn, to lost, and finally won! A real roller-coaster that saw Thaler throwing away an essentially unloseable rook ending with a 2-pawn advantage.

Our next match against the dangerous Carolina Cobras will feature a minor shakeup of the lineup. I hope to report on a victory.

-Johnny B


USCL Week 2: Dallas Destiny vs. San Francisco Mechanics

I've been really busy with school this week, so this update will have to be brief. The Dallas Destiny battled to a 2-2 tie with the San Francisco Mechanics this past Wednesday. We remain undefeated!

Board 1: IM Drasko Boskovic (2532) vs. GM Patrick Wolff (2623) 1/2-1/2

Frankly, I thought Drasko was going to win pretty quickly after 20.Nd5. He seemed to have overwhelming compensation for the pawn. However, the wily veteran Patrick Wolff found the amazing continuation 20...Re8 21.Ne7+ Rxe7 22.Qxe7 Re8 23.Qxd6 Qc2!!, which is an extremely hard move to see in advance. Drasko was forced to fight with a rook for two knights, and Wolff later stumbled into a drawn Queen ending.

Board 2: IM Vinay Bhat (2465) vs. IM John Bartholomew (2476) 1-0

What can I say...this game was like having teeth pulled! After the terrible move 33...Re8?? (I completely thought he had to move his bishop; 33...h4 should draw), I fully deserve to lose. Bhat showed very good technique in the opposite color bishop ending and I eventually succumbed to the pressure. These are the sort of endings where the 30-second increment is quite useful - the stronger side can always repeat the position and gain an extra minute or more of time.

Board 3: IM Jacek Stopa (2414) vs. IM David Pruess (2452) 1-0

It really doesn't seem to matter what board Jacek plays on...he always produces! This game looked completely one-sided from beginning to end. It was also the first game to finish, and putting up a quick win really helps out your teammates. Well played, Jacek!

Board 4: Gregory Young (2043) vs. WFM Bayaraa Zorigt (2196) 1/2-1/2

A strange game! Bayaraa caught her young (that's not a pun; he is actually 12 years old!) opponent in a well-known Dragon trap...but messed up the move order! She played 17....Rxd4? first rather than 17...Nxe4 and then 18...Rxd4. She was very upset with herself after this, but just like last week she stuck with her position and even managed to reach an endgame with an extra pawn. Unfortunately, there were bishops of opposite color on the board and Young managed to escape with a draw.

All told, this was a match that we definitely could have won. Still, a tie with the defending USCL champs is a good result. We will try and build on this success next week against Queens!